Since its inception, the Internet has been a useful tool for job seekers, but it has also been a useful tool for unscrupulous scammers who make their living by preying upon job seekers. Finding a legitimate job online can be a daunting task because the Internet, even in this age of technology, is still a lot like the Wild West: unregulated, untamed, and full of unsavory characters looking to get rich quick. Finding a legitimate job online can be made easier, however, by following a few basic rules.
1. Stick to mainstream job sites. The larger and well-known sites such as HotJobs, CareerBuilder, and Monster tend to be safer because they have the technological capabilities to track down and remove ads posted by scammers. Smaller sites, on the other hand, don’t have the resources necessary to combat these schemers. You still need to use caution, however, since no site is 100% safe from spammers and scammers.
2. Do your research. Be wary if a job posting fails to mention the name of the company. If a company’s name isn’t mentioned in the ad but the ad still looks promising, it’s perfectly acceptable to contact the poster and ask for company details. With the name of the company in hand, it should be easy to use the Internet to make sure that the company is reputable. In this day and age nearly all reputable companies have a web presence, so if your search turns up no results, don’t waste your time.
3. Look for names. Scammers are law-breakers, and law breakers seldom use their real names. If the ad lists a suspicious sounding name, like Mrs. Smith or Mr. Jones, as a contact person, be cautious. Honest people aren’t ashamed to use their real names, since they have nothing to hide. Whenever you call about a job, make sure to get the name of the person you are talking to. If they hesitate, or flat out refuse, hang up the phone immediately.
4. Never give out personal information. Some scammers insist on asking for your social security number, address, phone number, and other information claiming that they need it to run a background check or a credit check on applicants. While this type of information is often asked for on traditional paper job applications, it should never be asked for online or over the phone. If you are asked for this information over the phone or through an email, insist upon meeting the employer in person. A legitimate employer will have no problem meeting you in person and giving you a tour of the workplace.
5. Be nosy. Most scammers don’t work out the fine details of their operation, so by asking plenty of questions it is often easy to watch their scheme unravel. Let’s suppose you are responding to an ad looking for a freelance writer. Ask questions like, “Where can I read some of the material you’ve published?” or “What other writers have you worked with?” Ask them what their qualifications are and what professional organizations and guilds they belong to. Don’t be afraid to be nosy, it just might prevent you from falling prey to a scammer.
When it comes to finding legitimate jobs online, it is always wise to use caution because you never know who’s being honest over the Internet. Identity theft is a multi-million dollar industry and some scammers will stop at nothing to separate you from your money. The above tips will help you steer clear of the most common traps and tricks used by these scammers and frauds.